When the parents of a child are not married at the beginning of the pregnancy or at the birth of the child, the father is legally without the rights and responsibilities of a parent. The father, mother or a third party on behalf of the child, must seek a declaration of paternity to legally establish a parent-child relationship with the father.
This process gives the father specific custodial rights while imposing upon him a legal obligation to provide specific financial support for the child.
An unmarried father can only get legal responsibility for his child in 1 of 3 ways:
- jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother
- getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
- getting a parental responsibility order from a court
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
By establishing paternity, you will give your child the rights and benefits enjoyed by children born to married parents:
- Legal proof of each parent’s identity.
- Information regarding family medical history (in case of inherited health problems).
- Medical or life insurance from either parent (if available).
- Financial support from both parents, including child maintenance and inheritance.
The Fathers’ Rights and Responsibilities
By signing the affidavit, the mother and father confirm that he is the biological father of the child. The father’s signature also affirms that he will be responsible for the child’s financial and medical support until adulthood.
All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent – known as ‘parental responsibility.’ Read more about parental responsibility.